MAAE’s initiative to organize community/school advocacy coalitions around the state got a good start on Tuesday evening, Oct. 24 in Bridgton, where members of the community met with school arts teachers and students for a Community Conversation about arts education in the local MSAD #61. Downtown Bridgton’s Gallery 302, which hosts the MSAD’s annual student art show and runs a student scholarship program, hosted the meeting.

The evening began with an Open House that featured a display of student artwork brought in by Lake Region High School visual art (and dance) educator Carmel Collins

and student voices, in four-part harmony, under the direction of MSAD#61 music educator Eugene Long.

The students (left to right) were Emma Walker, Paige Goldstein,  Matt Mayo and Sean Buchanan.

Refreshments were also part of the festivities!

The “meeting” itself began with a presentation by the students, who spoke movingly about their own personal journeys in the arts and what the arts have meant to each of them. Their words prompted some of the artists in the audience to share their experiences as well!

Then Susan Potters, MAAE Executive Director, spoke to the group about the community’s role in keeping arts education strong at MSAD#61. She described new opportunities for that involvement offered by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which has replaced NCLB (No Child Left Behind).

The attendees signed up to be kept in the loop about district plans and opportunities to participate. Carmel will be staying in touch with them as she finds out more about MSAD # 61’s planning process.

More such community meetings are being around the state in the coming months. The meetings coming up soon are in Bar Mills, hosted by the Saco River Theatre (10/30), Winter Harbor, hosted by Schoodic Arts for All (11/7) and Eastport, hosted by the Eastport Arts Center (11/14). Those who want to learn if a meeting is being planned for their community, or who are interested in help with organizing one can contact Susan Potters at And everyone can get statewide advocacy updates by clicking on “Stay in the Loop” on this website.